Conference Reflections

 

Samuel Subramaniam

The Global Alliance for Innovative Learning (GAIL) experience of 2018 in the United States has been an extremely rewarding one for myself and every student involved. The team consists of 10 students, Mr. Albano, Ms. Kemp and Mrs. Fromholz. The annual conference was held at Kimball Union Academy located in Meriden, New Hampshire and this years theme was ‘Leadership & Ethical Decision Making’.

To prepare us for the experience the team held weekly meetings discussing the itinerary, logistics and activities that were to be undertaken. The primary goal of the group was to gain a global perspective and understanding of not only the United States but also the other schools attending the conference that came from six other countries (New Zealand, South Africa, India, Scotland, China and The United States). 

The first week of the trip consisted of touring Los Angeles, Washington DC and New York. We all thoroughly enjoyed the cities and our eyes were opened on various equations seeing things that were foreign to us – such as the heavy carrying of guns. Personally, I will not forget seeing a priest who could barely walk protesting peacefully in front of the White House put in handcuffs. Other than viewing different things like this on that week, we all found the experiences invaluable. On my part, seeing Wall Street was a rousing experience for me as I am fascinated by the world of finance. However, at the end of the tour fragment of the trip we had grown together and we felt like brothers and sisters – we became a family.

We arrived to Kimball Union Academy (KUA) and instantly we were warmly welcomed by their staff and students. The second week of the trip was composed of various collaboration with students from around the world. Not only did we gain a stronger global understanding but also a further understanding of ourselves. We all bonded and formed close friendships with other students and fully involved ourselves in all aspects of the activities. KUA = provided us the opportunity to tour Dartmouth College (a prestigious Ivy League College) which was incredibly interesting. Other than the friendships gained during the week, we gained skills in workshops and understandings of working environments that will trail us in life. We grasped the scope of our personal ethics and understand that everyone has different ethical guidelines and all of us led in discussion and displayed the true colours of Scotch College.

Upon return, we aim to promote the GAIL message throughout the younger years growing the GAIL family, and hope that they take full advantage of what the GAIL program can offer in the upcoming years

 

Jordi Harbridge-Marks 

It’s quite difficult to sum up the GAIL conference in words. Going into the week, I was equally nervous and excited to see myself be placed out of my regular routine and expand my horizons, friendships and leadership skills. The GAIL experience really helped me to identify and work on my resilience, my passion for ethics and morals and forming connections with diverse people. 
Through this opportunity I met some of the nicest, most driven, intelligent, compassionate and down-to-earth individuals, from around the world, and I am so grateful, lucky and proud to be a part of such an incredible, one of a kind experience. 

 

Emma Cooper-Baldock

Attending the GAIL convention this year was honestly one of the best experiences I have had at Scotch so far. Going into it I was quite nervous as I was one of the two year 10’s going, but I actually think that was good for me in the long run as I got to know the year 11’s really well. The first week of sightseeing before the conference gave us an insight into American culture and we got to see many places ‘shown in the movies’. While at the convention we got so many opportunities to explore the overarching theme of Leadership and Ethical Decision Making. I personally enjoyed the dilemma workshops because they were so hands on. It also allowed me to work on my public speaking skills and expressing ideas which was one of my goals when applying last year. Consistently we were told that what we put into it, would be what we got out of it and as the convention went on this became very clear to us all. One of my favourite parts was sharing a dorm with two girls from different schools and I think this put many people out of their comfort zone. Overall, I would highly recommend this to any upcoming students as it honestly is one of the best life experiences you can get. 

 

 

Hugh Scaffidi-Muta

You hear the clichés: “It was a once in a lifetime experience.”, “something I will never forget.”, “A life-changing experience.” and the GAIL trip does not disappoint. Going into the trip I had a limited understanding of how that week would proceed. Obviously, I had read the itinerary, I knew I was going to meet people, learn something new. But you cannot prepare for how you feel, the connections you make and the challenges you face and this I believe is the true value of the trip. The things you don’t expect to learn and the observations you only realise days, weeks or months later continue to have a lasting impact on how you conduct yourself henceforth. Spending time living with kids from around the world and conversing topics that challenge not only the way you think but how you think provide the opportunity to discover yourself and the world in which we all live. The different perspectives and diverse opinions surprised me. It forced me to consider the impact of how actions and decisions affect a diverse population, this is particularly important in our global society. In my opinion, this is the basis of an ethical decision. It was not just the differences that were striking, the similarities between people are equally as interesting. As we discussed superficial observations such as accents, food choices and how hot the weather was, it was evident that common ground between individuals was a common occurrence over which many friends were made. Looking back over this truly defining experience, it is easy to see how this journey has contributed so much to the people it has touched.

 

 

Dougal Day

The conference was amazing learning about real life ethical decisions and how to become a better leader really inspired me. It has taught me many things that I will not forget and how many of your own actions can reflect and have an affect on others.

 

 

Zoe Roberts:

The 2018 GAIL convention has been one of the greatest opportunities I have ever experienced. From the 10 week preparation to the last day at the convention I grew as a leader, increased my self confidence and made long lasting friendships. I enjoyed exploring the country and gaining insight into Americas culture through our week of sightseeing. With one of the highlights involving seeing the 9/11 memorial. Personally the convention was one of my favourite parts of this experience. By coming out of my comfort zone I was able to fully embrace the convention experience. I increased self confidence by expressing ideas at the ethical leadership workshops as well as learning from the many intelligent, kind and unique people I had the privledge to meet. Stepping out of my comfort zone also allowed me to talk and get to know so many different people, learning about their cultures, talking about our own as well as many many laughs which have now turned into long lasting friendships.
One main idea that was placed in our heads from the beginning was what we put into it, is what we get out of it and as the convention continued this idea become clear to us all and honestly as a whole, we did exactly that. GAIL is a life changing experience that I will never forget.

 

James Borg:

GAIL, This experience is full of so many new precious and priceless memories. This trip has been a wake up call to the opportunities Scotch College offers students. Truly a wakeup call and has shown me that my dreams can become a reality. Studying at prestigious colleges and universities overseas does not seem at all far-fetched anymore. The rapid rate the world is growing and the level of globalization is increasing it is imperative to understand other cultures and be exposed to different views and other ways of thinking. With this exposure my knowledge has definitely been broadened. My views and opinions have changed being exposed to different perspectives on certain issues, being more open minded and understanding of other people. The ethical decisions and aspects of the conference, were extremely interesting and thought provoking. Developing my critical thinking and giving me new tools to analyse ethical decisions. My highlight of the trip was being able to make so many new long lasting friendships and new global connections for the future.

 

 

Emma Heinjus

GAIL for me has been a once in a lifetime experience that has changed the way that I see the world and myself. This experience has allowed me to connect with others and make lifelong friends. The first couple of days of the trip I felt on edge most of the time however as time went on I felt more comfortable with the people that surrounded me. All the museums that we visited definitely helped me get a broader understanding of America. With the help of Ms. Kemp, my general knowledge and math skills skyrocketed. All the memorials and galleries were extremely interesting and answered many questions that I had about America.

The conference was amazing and by far the best part of the trip for me. This was because of all the knowledge that I gained about ethical decision making and because of all the long-lasting friendships that were formed. The conference allowed me to broaden my knowledge and  get a better understanding of ethical decision making. The friends that I made on the conference were amazing at helping my nervousness and KUA was incredibly welcoming. All the lectures and workshops were fascinating and helped when it came to solving ethical dilemmas. The best part of the week for me was getting to know everyone and resolving the ethical dilemmas, this is because both of these things were challenging and allowed me to leave my comfort zone. Saying goodbye at the end of the week was by far the hardest thing of the trip. I made incredibly strong connections with students at the conference and saying goodbye was very bittersweet.

The GAIL experience was amazing and the best 2 weeks of my life. It was the best decision applying for the conference. I would not change it for a thing!

 

 

Maggie Smith

Going into the first week of traveling around the states at that point it seemed it what I was most excited for , the culture in America is pretty different from back home with it’s good and bads. Didn’t matter what city we where staying in it was always alive with the sound of people and many  sirens … 
I learnt a new way of independence through the first week of traveling . Which
came In handy when arriving at a school in the middle of nowhere and staying with a roommate whom I had never met . But the level of honour soon washed away the scared feeling from the both of us. Going into the workshops my main focus was to take in as many key point as I could for gaining the best outcome possible . The way of teaching at the convention always kept us alert and interested just in case I was to be called out. One of  the things I really enjoyed about the conversation was freedom of speech at anytime you were able to share your point of view. The overall outcome of Gail has been one of the best experiences in my life learning new skills and making friends that I will stay in touch with forever.
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Day 8 – NYC – James Borg

Our last day in New York, The past days had been amazing and eye opening to get a global perspective of the world. Today, the team woke up at 8 am and went to the bottom of the hotel to get our breakfast all of us still surprised on how busy New York can be at this time. A seemingly never sleeping city. We then procceedes to meet in our usual meeting area in the hotel to discuss and plan our day, Mr A has been heavily focusesing on us leading each day and making our own decisions. Still being the voice of reason and making sure each day is as safe and fun as possible. Today was the day we went to the moma and the Yankees, Red Sox game ! All of us extremely excited we quickly went through the logistocs of transportation and timing to achieve these goals.

Day 7 – New York City – Samuel Subramaniam

Today we started off the morning by taking the New York Subway to catch the Staten Island Ferry from lower Manhattan.  Many of us enjoyed taking the subway and expect to take it if we travel as young adults on a budget.

The ferry provided a beautiful view of Lady Liberty and both Staten Island and lower Manhattan.  Prior to visiting the emotional and moving 9/11 Ground Zero museum we bought lunch at the classic New York food trucks where some of us had Mexican Burritos , American Burgers and Philadelphia Cheese Steak sandwiches.

After spending a few hours at the Ground Zero museum we approached the new World Trade Centre (the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere) and viewed New York City from the 109th floor of the building.  After experiencing the dizzying heights and taking numerous photos it was time to visit the most important financial district in the world: Wall Street.  Whilst taking photos with the iconic bull statue it started to rain.  Everyone was ready for Pizza for dinner which did not disappoint.  After demolishing dinner some of us headed to the hotel for an early night while others went shopping at Times Square.  All of us students are really happy with how the day went and how the trip is going and are excited for another jam-packed day tomorrow.

Day 6 – Jordi Harbridge-Marks

Our first day in New York City was an exciting one for everyone. After a very small breakfast at the hotel, we made our way to the Museum of Natural History. Here we spent time looking at a wide variety of interesting exhibitions and tried to find objects from “Night at the Museum”. We took a walk through Strawberry Fields in Central Park and took in the serenity and peace while listening to live music covers of John Lennon. The final destination for the day was Rockefeller Centre. Here we made our way to the top and took in the truly breathtaking views. It was so incredible to see the whole city below us. A quick dinner and we were off to bed for an early night after a long and eventful first day in New York City.

 

Day 5 – Washington D.C – Train to New York City – Emma Heinjus

We started the day at Arlington Cemetery where we walked around looking at all of the important head stones of fallen military personnel and officers. In particular the most interesting one was the Kennedy’s memorials. We visited President John F. Kennedy’s memorial where we all reflected on the events leading up to his death. We then proceeded to look at his three brothers that were also all buried at the same site.

Later on in the day we walked to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watched the changing of the guards and the wreath laying process. This was interesting for all of us to see the process that took place. In the sweltering heat we walked back to the entrance of the Cemetery and caught Uber’s to the White House.

When we arrived at the White House it was overwhelming to see all of the protesters who were being arrested. However, I was more interested in patting the Police horses. After we left the White House in fury we got the opportunity  to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

Later we headed back to the hotel, had lunch and a swim. We then proceeded to Union Station and got on the four hour long train ride that would finish in New York City. we walked from the train station to the hotel and sat in the foyer for two hours while Mr A waited in the check in line. After a long wait we got to our rooms finally at 10pm.

Day 4 – Washington D.C. – Emma Cooper-Baldock

After a short sleep in this morning we headed out in the warm weather to the Capitol Building=, and on the way we got to see our first squirrel. We took photos and looked at all the snipers patrolling from on the roof. We then walked to the National Gallery of Art which takes up two buildings and the underground levels that connect them. Here we saw Monet, Picasso and even Vincent van Gough works which was pretty cool. After that we headed over towards the Smithsonian Museums and had lunch in the park. The Air and Space Museum overlooked this area so we went here next. Inside a huge array of aircraft and spaceship replicas awaited us.

After spending a few hours here, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner. For dinner we then walked through the Washington streets to a nice restaurant where most people ordered steaks.

Day 3 – Los Angeles to Washington D.C

After a relaxing sleep in we said goodbye to Hollywood and Beverly Hills and experience some L.A. traffic.  Once we finally got to LAX we flew just over five hours from the west coast to the East coast.  Because of the time difference we landed at 9:00.  On the way to the hotel we got our first glimpses of the monuments.  Eight X-Large pizza’s later we are going to bed for a full day of sight seeing tomorrow.  Good Night.